Home > Uncategorized > empathy as a game-changer?

empathy as a game-changer?

This very morning I came across this brilliant article on the Transition Voice website: http://transitionvoice.com/2010/12/oh-brother-not-peak-oil/

It stimulated me to think deeply about the whole question of how we communicate with those who do not understand the magnitude of the apocalyptic changes about to hit us all, changes induced by a combination of peak oil and rapid climate change. And we do inevitably have to communicate with them, not least because we will need their help, and they will need ours, before, during, and after the ‘end-game’, whatever that may be. My response to the article was this:

this is a fantastic article with so many valuable insights and deserves to be read and re-read. I would just like to add that one way of helping to make peak oil and climate change a real and immediate story for those of us living in “Madonna’s material world”, is to bring together and highlight all the myriad real-life stories of individuals, families, villages, and towns throughout the world where climate change is hitting hard with the “fierce urgency of now”. There are stories in the news media about Indian farmers committing suicide because they can no longer afford to dig their wells deep enough to reach the falling water table, falling because of rapid climate change within the bread-basket area of India. There are stories about the suffering caused to villagers dwelling in the Andes as a direct result of the disappearance of a glacier that used to provide all their fresh water. There are stories about school children having to wade knee-deep to school in Bangladesh through water that is rising year by year because the rising sea-level means sea-water is penetrating ever further inland; they can literally see the water level rise higher up the wooden stilts that raise their school hut just above the surface of the water. I could go on, but the point is that these stories are scattered all over the media, usually in little-known places, and it takes some research and persistence to dig them out, and then these stories have to be brought together and the dots connected into one great narrative that reveals the tidal-wave of suffering that is already sweeping across humanity. When people are exposed to real-time, real-life, stories of suffering right now, that will stimulate people’s natural empathy for the suffering of others, which in turn will stimulate their willingness to engage in compassionate action to mitigate the main immediate cause of the suffering: rapid climate change. I think we need to do much more to stimulate the core emotional intelligence of empathy, especially amongst ‘Westerners’, because no matter how ‘material’ they may be, they are also great contributors to charities and NGOs when, for example, famine or emergency appeals are made, appeals which always show real people in real trouble. There is a great video on the global urgency of everyday empathy at:

And there are some very powerful ways of deliberately increasing empathy, such as the meditations for generating lovingkindness and compassion within the Buddhist tradition, especially within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, although many other spiritual, or secular, traditions also have powerful methods too. It was partly empathy that drove me to look at global climate change in detail, and it is the reality of global climate change that is helping to increase what little empathy I have. Maybe empathy is the ‘game-changer’ when it comes to doing something truly positive about global climate change.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: